Saint-Vaast (Arras), Abbey of
SAINT-VAAST (ARRAS), ABBEY OF
Former Benedictine abbey in the town and Diocese of Arras, France (Latin, S. Vedastus Atrebatensis ). Founded in 667 by Bishop Aubert to serve the funeral chapel of St. vedast, it received large donations from King Thierry III, who also made it a royal abbey exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. This wealthy abbey's rapid growth during the 8th century was responsible for the bourg that grew up opposite the bishop's Gallo-Roman city of Arras. About 800 the abbey church was repaired and the sanctuary redecorated. During the norman invasions, the monks fled to Beauvais, where they lost all the abbey's documents in a fire (886). Abbot Richard of Verdun (1009–1020) restored the monastery under the observance of verdun-sur-meuse. Under Abbot Leduin (1020–40) the cluniac reform was adopted and the abbey church rebuilt; Abbot Martin I (1155–84) strengthened the abbey temporally and spiritually.
During the 12th and 13th centuries the abbey had numerous conflicts over jurisdiction with the bishop, the Count of Artois, and the bailiffs. At this time more than 3,000 poor and sick were cared for annually by the abbey. Both the town and the monastery were devastated by occupying German troops during the war between France and the Hapsburgs (1479–92). In the 16th century Jean Sarrasin, the future archbishop of Cambrai, was abbot (1578–98). He was succeeded by Philip Caverel (1598–1636), founder of the college of douai and author of the Latin chronicle of Saint-Vaast, the miracles of St. Vedast, and the history of the monasteries of Flanders. From 1569 to 1768 Saint-Vaast was part of the Exempt Congregation of Flanders, but then returned to the Cluniac observance. When the abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution, there were 74 monks. Today the convent buildings are a museum, a library, and general treasury. The abbey church, which was rebuilt between 1755 and 1833, is now the cathedral.
Bibliography: a. h. guesnon, ed., Un Cartulaire de l'abbaye de Saint-Vaast d'Arras (Paris 1896). l. brou, ed., The Monastic Ordinale of St. Vedast's Abbey, Arras, 2 v. (Henry Bradshaw Society 86, 87; London 1957). a. de cardevacque and a. terninck, L'Abbaye de Saint-Vaast …, 3 v. (Arras 1865–68). p. grierson, "La Bibliothèque de St-Vaast d'Arras au XIIe siècle," Revue Bénédictine 52 (1940) 117–140. g. besnier, "Le Cartulaire de Guiman d'Arras, ses transcriptions. Les Autres cartulaires de Saint Vaast," Moyen-âge 62 (1956) 453–478.